Non-Congress political parties on Monday hailed the Delhi High Court ruling holding Congress leader Sajjan Kumar guilty in the 1984 killing of Sikhs and sentencing him to imprisonment for life.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Arun Jaitley said the conviction was “a delayed vindication of justice”.
“Justice for the victims of 1984 was buried by the Congress. The NDA restored fairness and accountability… The Congress and the Gandhi family legacy will continue to pay for the sins of the 1984 riots,” Jaitley tweeted.
The Congress, he said, had repeatedly tried to cover up the truth. “But today, he (Sajjan Kumar) has been convicted.”
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav welcomed the verdict and thanked Home Minister Rajnath Singh for reopening the cases “deliberately suppressed by the previous government”.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) head Arvind Kejriwal too hailed the ruling.
“It has been a very long and painful wait for innocent victims who were murdered by those in power. Nobody involved in any riot should be allowed to escape no matter how powerful the individual may be,” he said.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj called the 1984 killing of Sikhs following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards a “permanent blot on Delhi”.
“Though much delayed, the High Court judgment on Sajjan Kumar is a landmark. State power cannot be used to massacre innocent citizens. Had exemplary punishment been given to perpetrators of the 1984 riots, nobody would have repeated it in 2002.”
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “Justice delayed but not denied.”
Welcoming the verdict, Akali Dal leader and Delhi MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said the next in the list after Sajjan Kumar were Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath.
Sajjan Kumar and five others were tried in a case involving the killing of five Sikhs — Kehar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Raghuvender Singh, Narender Pal Singh and Kuldeep Singh, who were from the same family — by a mob in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar.
The Delhi High Court on Monday convicted accused Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, while describing the mass killings as “crimes against humanity”.
Reversing the acquittal order of the trial court, the Delhi High Court sentenced Kumar to life imprisonment. The Congress leader has been asked to surrender by December 31.
The court while reading out the judgement said the “accused enjoyed political patronage and escaped trial”.
Besides Kumar, Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Kishan Khokkar and former legislator Mahender Yadav were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Earlier last month, a Delhi court had sentenced to death one of the two convicts found guilty of killing two Sikh men during the 1984 riots, the first capital punishment in the case.
According to reports, over 3000 people were killed in the riots in and outside Delhi.
(With inputs from IANS)